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WIELAND'S TRANSLATION OF SHAKESPEARE 



BY 



F. W. MEISNEST 



iS ISL^Jd 



[Fbom the modern language review, Vol, IX, No. 1, Jantjabt 1914.] 



T^gKT 



CAMBRIDGE 
AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 



[Reprinted from the Modern Language Review. 
Vol. IX. No. 1. January 1914.] 

[All RigJits reserved.] 



WIELAND'S TRANSLATION OF SHAKESPEARE. 

Comparatively early in life did Christoph Martin Wieland become 
interested in English literature. During his school-days at Kloster- 
bergen (1748-50) he read Richardson's Pamela in a French translation. 
His actual study of the English language, however, did not begin until 
after he had entered the University of Tubingen in 1752^. One of the 
first English poets in whom he was interested was James Thomson, the 
influence of whose Seasons is evident on Wieland's early writings^ ; and 
his friendship with Bodmer and residence in Zurich (1752-54) naturally 
turned his attention to Milton. The pathetic ' letters ' of the English 
poetess Elizabeth Rowe nourished his emotional nature and furnished 
materials for his Briefe von Verstorhenen an hinterlassene Freunde 
(1753); and still more was he captivated by the sweet melancholy 
of Edward Young's Night Thoughts^. The attraction which Young 
had for him was, however, of short duration. Richardson also made 
a strong appeal to Wieland, and the, influence of that writer is to be 
seen, not merely in the theme of his domestic tragedy, Clementina von 
Porretta (1760), but also in his moral story, Araspes und Panthea 
(1758)\ Another of his early dramas, Lady Johanna Gray (1758), 
shows his dependence on the English dramatist Rowe. Swift does not 
seem to have appealed very strongly to him^ but Prior was a particular 
favourite^; and in his Der neue Amadis, he is directly indebted to 
Spenser's Faerie Queene"'. A greater influence than any of these writers 
was, however, that of Shaftesbury, whom Wieland accepted as his 
teacher after he abandoned Young in 1756^ 

1 Cf. letter to Schinz, March 26, 1752 {Ausgeivcihlte Briefe, i, p. 55). 

^ K. Gjerset, Ber Einfluss von Thomsons Jahreszeiten avf die deutsche Literatur des 
18. Jahrlmnderts, Heidelberg, 1898, pp. 36 — 40 ; also Koberstein, Geschichte der deutschen 
Nationalliteratur, 5. Aufl., in, p. 118. 

^ J. Barnstorff, Youngs Nachtgedanken und ihr Einjiuss auf die deutsche Literatur, 
Bamberg, 1895, pp. 58—63. 

•* E. Schmidt, Richardson, Rousseau und Goethe, Jena, 1875, p. 46. 

^ Cf. Schiiorr's Archiv fii.r Literaturgeschichte, xiii, p. 496. 

8 Wukadinovic, Prior in Deutschland, Graz, 1895, pp. 48 — 58. 

'' L. Lenz, Wielands Verhdltnis zu Spenser, Pope und Sivift, Hersfeld, 1903. 

>* Allgemeine deutsche Biographic, xlii, p. 412 and Wieland's Werke (Hempel) i, p. 20. 



F. W. MEISNEST 3 

The first reference to Shakespeare is found in a conversation on 
March 15, 1755, with Magister F. D. Ring, reported in the latter's 
diary : 

Am Sonntag den 15. Marz [1755] fiihrte ich nach der Predigt den Herrn Nolten 
S. Min. Cand. aus Berlin zu Wieland, der von Shakespear viel schwatzte und 
glaubte, er werde ewig der Englander Bewunderung bleiben, ohngeachtet er manch- 
mal gigantische Vorstellungen hat und alle Teufel aus der Hblle auf's Theater 
bringt^. 

Most important for the purpose of showing Wieland's attitude 
towards and his appreciation of Shakespeare's works is his letter of 
April 24, 1758, to Zimmermann. After censuring Voltaire for his 
violent denunciation of Shakespeare he writes : 

Vous connoissez sans doute cet homme extraordinaire par ses ouvrages. Je I'aime 
avec toutes ses fautes. II est presque unique a })eindre d'aj)rfes la nature les hommes, 
les mcEurs, les passions ; il a le talent precieux d'embellir la nature sans lui faire 
perdre ses proportions. Sa fecondite est inepuisable. II paroit n'avoir jamais etudic 
que la nature seule. II est tantot le Michel-Ange tantot le Corrfege des poetes. Oil 
trouver plus de conceptions hardies et pourtant justes de pensees nouvelles, belles, 
sublimes, frappantes, et d'expressions vives, heureuses, animees, que dans les ouvrages 
de ce genie incomparable ? Malheur a celui qui souhaite de la regularite a un genie 
d'un tel ordre, et qui ferme les yeux ou qui n'a pas des yeux pour sentir ses beautes 
uniquement parce qu'il n'a pas celle que la pifece la plus detestable de Pradon a 
dans un degre plus eminent que le Gid-. 

No such intelligent, enthusiastic praise had been given to Shake- 
speare by any of the other prominent German critics or scholars previous 
to this time, not even by Lessing, Nicolai, or Mendelssohn. 

Just when and through what means Wieland first became interested 
in Shakespeare cannot be definitely decided. Possibly the appreciative 
remarks on Shakespeare and the potentialities of English tragedy in 
Beat de Muralt's Lettres sur les Anglais (Berne, 1712; Zurich, 1725; 
Cologne, 1726) may have directed his attention to the English poet-^ 
Other possible sources were Voltaire's works, of which Wieland con- 
fessed himself a constant reader and admirer* ; and even Gottsched, 
who was to him in his youth a 'magnus Apollo V may have been instru- 
mental in interesting him in Shakespeare. The English periodicals, 
the Taller, Spectator, and Guardian, were familiar to Wieland in his 

1 Schnorr's Archiv, xiii, p. 495. 

2 Ausgewcihlte Brief e, i, 271. Cf. the strikingly similar comparison by Martin Sherlock, 
A Fragvient on Shakesjieai-e, 1786 : 'To say that he possessed the terrible graces of Michael 
Angelo, and the amiable graces of Correggio, would be a weak encomium: he had them 
and more.' (Quoted from Charles Knight, Studies of Shakspere, London, 1868.) 

* Cf. Otto von Greyerz, B. L. von Muralt, Berne, 1888 ; M. Koch in Englische Studien, 
XXIV, p. 317 ; also Bottiger, Literarische Zustdnde und Zeitgenossen, Leipzig, 1838, i, 
p. 174. 

* Cf. Wieland, Ein Wort iiber Voltaire besonders als Historiker (1773) ; (Werke, ed. 
Goschen, 1839-40, xxxvi, p. 174). 

^ Letter to Bodmer, March 6, 1752 (AusgewiMte Brief e, i, p. 46). 



4 Wieland's Translation of Shakespeare 

school-days ; while the Leipzig journal, Neue Erweiterungen der 
Erkenntniss und des Vergnugens (1753), conbained a translation of 
Rowe's Life of Shakespeare. Lastly, Nicolai's Brief e ilher die itzigen 
Zustdnde der schonen Wissenschaften (1754) and Yotiiio-'s Essay on 
Original Composition (1759; translated, 1760), with their important 
references to Shakespeare, were no doubt known to him. 

The immediate suggestion for translating Shakespeare was probably 
derived from various sources. Gervinus believed that if it had not 
been for Lessing's recommendation of a translation of Shakespeare's 
masterpieces {Litteraturhriefe, No. xvir), Wieland would not have 
undertaken the task\ The fact is that Wieland cared little for 
Lessing's opinions at this time. When Mendelssohn subjected 
Wieland's tragedy Clementina von Porr'etta, (1760) to a severe criticism 
(Litteraturhriefe, Nos. cxxiii, cxxiv), Wieland remarked: 'der Miss- 
achtung meiner Clementina von Lessing und Compagnie achte ich 
nicht mehr als des Summens der Sommermiicken oder des Quackens 
der Laubfrdsche'-.' Far more significant to Wieland must have been 
the urgent demand for a translation of English stage-plays, especially 
those of Shakespeare, contained in a review of Neue Prohestilcke der 
englischen Schauhuhne (3 vols., Basel, 1758) in the Bihliothek der schonen 
Wissenschaften (vi, 1760, pp. 60-74). The work reviewed contains 
Shakespeare's Romeo and Jidiet in iambic blank verse, besides dramas 
by Young, Addison, Dryden, Otway, Congreve and Rowe, all translated 
from the original ' von einem Liebhaber des guten Geschmacks.' The 
reviewer directs translators to Shakespeare as follows : 

Wir habeii schon mehr als einmal gewiinscht, dass sich ein guter Uebersetzer an 
die englische Schaubuhne wagen, und seine Landsleute hauptsachlich mit den 
vortrefflichen alten Stlicken des Shakespear, Beaumont und Fletcher, Otway, und 
andern bekannt machen mochte. Es wiirde vielleicht fiir die deutsche Schaubuhne 
weit vortheilhafter gewesen seyn, wenn sie jenen nachgeahmt hatte, als dass sie sich 
die franzosische Galanterie hinreissen lassen, und uns mit einer Menge hochst 
elender, obgleich hochstregelmassiger Stucke bereichert hat.... Wir empfehleu 
hauptsachlich dem Uebersetzer die Shakespeareischen Stucke : sie sind die schonsten, 
aber auch die schwersten, aber um deste eher zu iibersetzen, wenn man niitzlich 
seyn will 2. 

1 Geschichte der deiitschen Dichtung, 5th ed., iv, p. 422, a view which is concurred in 
by Dr Merscheberger (Shakespeare-Jahrbiich, xxv, p. 209). 

- El. Schmidt, Eichanlson, Rousseau und Goethe, p. 48. 

•' In January 1759 Nicolai surrendered the editorship of the Bihliothek to Ch. F. Weisse. 
But this review with its significant reference to Shakespeare is not in accord with the views 
of either of these editors. Both violently opposed entire translations of Shakespeare, as is 
evident from their reviews of Wieland's translation in the Allg. deutsche Bihliothek (i, 1, 
17(55, p. 300) and Bihliothek der schonen Wissenschaften (ix, 1763, p. 259). It seems 
probable that Joh. Nic. Meinhard was the author of the above review, which is quite in 
accord with his views and attitude (cf. Denkmal des Herrv Joh. Nik. Meinhard von Friedr. 
Just Eiedel, Silmrntlichte Scliriften, Wieu, 1787, vol. v, pp. 97 — 158). 



F. W. MEISNEST 5 

No doubt the immediate and most direct call for translating 
Shakespeare came to Wieland from his friend W. D. Sulzer, who upon 
returning a volume of Wieland's copy of Shakespeare (Jan. 14, 1759), 
expressed the hope that some skilful genius would translate and 
analyse Shakespeare's plays in the manner of Brumoy's Theatre des 
Orecs (see below, p. 15). 

Furthermore the decade 1760-70 was characterised by an awaken- 
ing of interest in English literature. Gottsched and his followers had 
lost their prestige, and the younger writers looked to England for their 
literary standards. In 1760 the Shakespeare cult, inaugurated by the 
forerunners of the ' Storm and Stress ' movement — Lessing, Nicolai, 
Mendelssohn, Weisse and Meinhard — was well established. The French 
had their translation of Shakespeare by La Place, although it was very 
imperfect and incomplete. Besides the three scenes of Richard III (I, 
ii; IV, iv, 1-195 ; V, iii, 108-206, Globe ed.), which appeared in Neue 
Erweiterungen de7' Erkeimtniss und des Vergnugens (Leipzig, 1755), 
only two dramas had been translated into German : Jidius Caesar by 
von Borck (1741) and Romeo and Jrdiet. The time was auspicious for 
a complete German Shakespeare. 

Soon after Wieland came to Biberach (1760) as 'Ratsherr' and 
' Kanzleidirektor/ he w^as appointed director of the local theatrical 
society (Jan. 7, 1761), which had existed since 1686, and was composed 
of artisans and tradesmen of the town\ 

The successful presentation of his Lady Johanna Gray on the stage 
at Winterthur, Switzerland, on July 20, 1758, by the famous Ackermann 
company was heralded throughout the land, and much was expected of 
him. To meet this expectation he translated and arranged the Tempest 
for the stage. The performance in September, 1761, was received with 
great applause, and Wieland was encouraged to continue his work. He 
translated twenty-two dramas, published by Orell, Gessner and Co., 
Zurich, between 1762 and 1766, in eight volumes^ 

1 Dr L. F. Ofterdinger, Geschichte des Theaters in Biberach {Wiirttemhergische Viertel- 
jahreshefte, vi, 1883, pp. 36 — 45), gives the most complete account. 

=* Vol. I : Pope's Preface, Mids., Lear; ii: A.Y.L., Meas., Temp.; in: Merch., Tim., 
John; IV: Gaes., Ant., Err.; v: Eich. 2, 1 Hen. IV, 2 Hen. IV ; vi: Much Ado., Macb., 
Two Gent. ; vii: Rom., 0th., Ttv. N. ; viii : Haml., Wint., Eowe's Life of Shak. (abridged). 
Various editions or reprints of at least some of the volumes appeared. Of the four 
copies of Wieland's translation which I have seen, two contain the 'Account of the Life of 
Shakespeare' in vol. i, following Pope's 'Preface,' instead of in vol. viii. In one of the 
copies vol. I bears the date 1764 instead of 1762. The translation is now easily accessible 
in the splendid new edition of Wieland's Vbersetzungen, Herausg. von Ernst Stadler, 
3 Bde. Berlin, Weidmann, 1909-11. 



6 Wieland's Translation of Shakespeare 

Wieland's Sources. 

In order to realize fully the immensity of the task, we must consider 
that Wieland undertook the work without a Shakespeare library. 
There are no indications in his translation or writings which show that 
he used even the meagre critical works on Shakespeare in existence 
at that time, as : Theobald's Shakespeare Restored (1726), Samuel 
Johnson's Miscellaneous Observations on the Tragedy of Macbeth (1745), 
Upton's Critical Observations on Shakespeare (1746), Edwards's The 
Canons of Criticism and Glossary, being a Supplement to Wa.rburtons 
Edition of Shakespeare (1748), Grey's Critical, Historical and Explana- 
tory Notes on Shakespeare (2 vols., 1755). According to all past 
investigations his working library consisted of three works : Warbur- 
ton's edition of Shakespeare's Works (8 vols., Dublin, 1747), Beyer's 
French- Eyiglish and English-French Dictionary (2 vols., Lyons, 1756), 
and a dictionary of Shakespearean Words and Phrases, which his friend 
La Roche recommended to him as indispensable, but whose author's 
name Wieland had forgotten \ 

Johnsons Dictionary. 
Although no reference is to be found in Wieland's writings to 
Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language (2 vols., London, 
1755), which was the most comprehensive dictionary at the time and 
was well known throughout Germany, it seems quite incredible that a 
translator of Shakespeare should attempt his difficult task without it. 
A careful comparison discloses a few translations which point ver}^ 
strongly to the use of Johnson's Dictionary. It is evident that only 
those passages can be considered which contain unusual words not 
explained in any of the works in Wieland's possession, as Warburton's 
Shakespeare, Boyer's Dictionary, Ludwig's Dictionary, or whose meaning 
cannot be-readily ascertained from the contexts 

' Seuffert, Prolegomena zu einer Wieland-Ausgahe, Berlin, 1905, iii 6 ; Bottiger, 
LitterariHche ZusUinde, vol. i, p. 196; Stadler, Quellen undForsch., cvii, pp. 21-2. Brief 
f^lossaries were appended to the editions of Eowe (1714), Hanmer (1744) and Hugh Blair 
(1753) ; but I could find no work corresponding to that recommended by La Eoche. 

- Boyer, The Royal Dictionary, French and English and English and French, London, 
1764, as well as Ludwig, Teutsch-Englisches Lexicon, 3. Aufl. 1765, and Ludwig, English, 
German and French Dictionary, 3. Aufl., Leipzig, 1763, were used in this investigation. 
The Dictionary by Ludwig, which Wieland may have used, was fully as complete as 
Boyer's and perhaps more extensively used in Germany. It is mentioned by Weisse in 
his review of the first volume of Wieland's translation in the Bihliothek der schonen 
Wisxenschaften (ix, 261, 1763): ' Jeder Leser muss so billig seyn, sich zu eriunern, dass 
zur Uebersetzung eines Shakespeare mehr als Ludwigs Worterbuch vonnothen.' Unless 
otherwise specified, all references to Shakespeare's works are to Tlie Globe Edition and 
Wieland's Gesammelte Schriften, 2. Abt. Ubersetzungen, hersg. von Stadler, 3 Bde. Berlin, 
1909-11. 



F. W. MEISNEST 7 

Lea7\ II, 1, 67 : ' When I dissuaded him from his intent, And found 
him pight to do it.' W., i, 116: 'Als ich ihn von seineni Vorhaben 
abmahnte, und ihn so entschlossen fand.' Johnson's Diet. : ' pight, 
determined. I found him pight to do it. Shakesp.' 

Lear, ii, 2, 167 : ' Good king, that must approve the common saw.' 
W., I, 123: 'Du guter Konig must izt das alte Spi-uchwort erfahren.' 
Johnson : ' saw, saying, maxim. Good king, that must approve the 
common saw, etc. Shakesp.' 

Lear, ii, 4, 178: 'To scant my sizes.' W., i, 128: 'Du bist nicht 
f8ihig...m,ir an meinem Unterhalt abzubrechen.' Johnson: 'sizes, a 
settled quantity. In the following passage it seems to signify the 
allowance of the table : whence they say a sizer at Cambridge. " 'Tis 
not in thee. To cut off my train, to scant my sizes, etc." Shakespeare's 
King Lear.' For Wieland to have divined this rare meaning, which is 
specifically Cambridge use (see N.E.D., s.v.), would have been remarkable. 

Haml. II, 2, 362 : ' escoted.' W., 3, 430 : ' salariert.' Johnson : ' To 
pay a man's reckoning ; to support. What, are they children ? Who 
maintains them ? How are they escoted ? Shakespeare's Hamlet.' 
Here Wieland may also have learned the correct interpretation from 
the foot-note ' escoted, paid ' in Johnson's edition of Shakespeare's 
Works. 

Macb. IV, 1, 37 : 'a baboon's blood.' W. : ' eines Sauglings Blut.' 
Johnson: 'baboon [bahouin, Fr. It is supposed by Skinner to be the 
augmentation of babe, and to import a great babe]. A monkey of 
the largest kind.' Wieland undoubtedly was misled by this curious 
etymology in Johnson's Dictionary, who got it from Stephano Skinner's 
Etymologicon Linguae Anglicanae (London, 1671). The same occurs 
also in Nathan Bailey's An Universal Etymological English Dictionary 
(London, 1740), but not in Boyer. It is quite improbable that Wieland 
should have mistaken ' baboon ' for ' babe ' as Stadler {Q.F., CVii, p. 42) 
supposes. Furness (Macbeth ed.) has it charged to Eschenburg : ' He 
mistook baboon for baby ;.. .and, so far will a naughty deed shine in this 
good world, this baby of Eschenburg's has been adopted by Schiller (of 
course), Benda, Kaufmann and Ortlepp.' 

SJiakespeare Editions. 

Undoubtedly Wieland had no opportunity to examine the various 
Shakespeare editions before selecting Warburton's : The Works of 
Shakespeare (Dublin, 8 vols.), with its numerous wild conjectures, as the 
basis for his translation. Being extensively advertised as superior to all 



8 Wielancls Ti-anslation of ShaJcespear'e 

other editions, ' furnishing the genuine text, collated with all the former 
editions, with critical and explanatory notes,' etc., it was but natural 
that Wieland should choose it. Even Eschenburg approved his 
selection : ' Herr Hofrath Wieland bediente sich freylich nur der 
Warburtonschen Ausgabe, und er hatte sehr Recht, dieser den Vorzug 
zu geben^' 

The most reliable text, as well as commentary, was contained in one 
of the later editions of Theobald's The Works of Shakespeare (London, 
7 vols., later editions in 8 vols.: 1740, 1752, 1757, 1762 and 1767)-. 

While collating the passages wherein Wieland deviated from War- 
burton, without any thought of his having used other editions, I noticed 
that all the similarities to Johnson's edition were in Hamlet and 
Winters Tale in the last volume of the translation. If these were all 
accidental, then similar results might be expected from the other seven 
volumes. To my surprise no definite similarities were found. When I 
discovered that Johnson's The Plays of William Shakespeare (8 vols., 
London) were published in October, 1765^ and Wieland's last volume 
in 1766, my suspicions were aroused*. There is then the time from 
Oct. 1765 to Sept. 1766, or about ten months, when it was possible 
for Wieland to have used Johnson's edition. 

Very probably Wieland had only Warburton's edition in his posses- 
sion. But in some way or other he must have had access to other 
editions and works, either in the extensive library of his friend Graf 
Stadion, who was a student of English literature, and at whose home 
Wieland frequently visited while working on the translation, or in 
some of the libraries adjacent to Biberach, as Ziirich or Geneva. 
He no doubt borrowed books from Zurich, and now and then asked 
his friend Gessner to look up references for him. Thus he writes on 
Sept. 30, 1762, to his publishers at Ziirich : 

A pro po, das englische Wort, dessen deutscben Aequivalent ich nichthabe findeii 
koiinen, ist iiicht spider, sondern spinner ; spider ist bekannt und heisst eine Spinue. 
Spinner aber bedeutet, wie ich glaube, eine Art von ungiftigen Spinuen, die einen 
kleinen aschfarbnen Leib und sehr lange Beine haben und bey uns in Suhwaben 

1 Shakespeares Schausplele, xiii, p. 469. 

2 The Works of Shakespeare, London, 1767, in Wieland's library at his death (Seuffert, 
Frolegoviena, iii, p. 6), must have been the 1767 edition of Theobald. 

•^ Diet, of National B log., xxx, p. 14. 

^ According to Wieland's letters he translated vol. viii between Nov. 7, 1765 
(Denkwilrdige Briefe, i, 26) and May 8, 1766, when the last manuscript was sent to 
the publishers. • Sept. 4, 1766 Wieland received three printed copies of vol. viii (Schnorr's 
Archiv, vii, pp. 505 and 506). 

Stadler (QF., cvi, pp. 13 — 19) gives a very complete collation of all references in 
Wieland's letters to his translation. 



^. W. MEISNEST 9 

Zimmermanncheu genannt werden. Ich habe im Linneus niclits davon gefunden. 
Der Hr. Canonicus Gessner aber wird Ihnen vermuthlich die Auskunft dariibei' 
geben konnen^ 

In the numerous footnotes Wieland refers only once to other 
Shakespeare editors, but this reference is significant. In a half-page 
footnote Warburton attempts to justify his division of lines among 
Lysander and Hermia (Mids., I, 1, 168), which Wieland properly 
rejects : ' Warburton schreibt also alien alten und neuen Ausgaben 
unsers Dichters zuwider diese schone Rede : Bey Amors starkstem 
Bogen, u.s.w. (i, 1, 169 — 176) dem Lysander, und nur die zween letzten 
Verse (177 — 8) der Hermia zu.' In Warburton's note no mention is 
made of other editors. In 'alien alten und neuen Ausgaben unsers 
Dichters,' Wieland must have included Theobald's (probably also 
Hanmer's) edition ; furthermore, he must have examined the edition 
himself, or had some one to do it for him, since his statement is true. 

The following parallel passages, of which some are quite conclusive, 
others more or less corroborative, are intended to prove that Wieland 
used or had access to Theobald's and Johnson's editions, using the 
latter only in the last volume of his translation. 

Theobald's Edition. 

(1) Haml., Ill, 4, 88: 'And reason panders will.' W. : 'Und Ver- 
nunft die Kupplerin schnoder Liiste wird.' Theobald : ' Suffers reason 
to be the Bawd to appetite I' 

(2) Mach., I, 3, 21 : 'He shall live a man forbid.' W. : 'Und so soil 
er in der Acht Siech und Elend sich verzehren.' Theobald : 'Forbid, 
i.e., as under a curse, an interdiction.' Johnson : 'Forbid, to accurse, to 
blast.' 

(3) Lear, i, 4, 322 : ' The untented woundings of a father's curse.' 
W. : ' Die unheilbaren Wunden des Fluchs eines Vaters.' Theobald : 
' A wounding of such a sharp inveterate nature, that nothing shall be 
able to tent it, or reach the bottom, and help to cure it.' Johnson : 
' Untented, having no medicaments applied.' 

(4) Wint, I, 2, 41 : ' To let him there a month behind the gest Pre- 
fix'd for's parting.' W. : 'So will ich's euch dagegen schriftlich geben, 
dass ihr ihn einen Monat liber den bestimmten Tag der Abreise 

1 Schnorr's Archiv, vii, p. 492. Wieland must have inquired about ' spinners ' in 
Mids., II, 2, 21 : ' Hence you long-legg'd spinners.' 

^ Unless specified, Theobald's notes or readings are not found in Warburton's, 
Johnson's, or Hanmer's editions, nor in Johnson's or Boyer's Dictionaries. References 
to Theobald are to the 1752 edition. 



lO Wieland's Translation of Shakespeare 

behalten sollet.' Theobald: 'I have not ventured to alter the Text, 
tho', I freely own, I can neither trace, nor understand, the phrase. I 
have suspected, that the poet wrote : behind the just, i.e., the just, 
precise time.' Warburton : 'Behind the gest. Mr Theobald thinks it 
should be just. But the word gest is right, and signifies a stage or 
journey.' Johnson's ed. contains Warburton's note, but not Theobald's, 
whose conjecture has been universally rejected. 

(5) ^amZ., II, 2, 354: 'An aery of children, little eyases.' W.: 'Ein 
Nest voll Kinder,... kleine Kichelchen.' Theobald: 'Little eyases, i.e.. 
Young nestlings, creatures just out of the egg.' (The same in Johnson.) 
Johnson's Diet. : Eyas, ' A young hawk just taken from the nest not 
able to prey for itself Hanmer.' Beyer's Diet. : Eyess. ' A young 
hawk just taken from the nest.' 

Johnsons Edition. 

(1) Haml., I, 4, 17 : 'This heavy-headed revel east and west makes 
us traduced and tax'd of other nations.' W. : ' Diese taumelnden Trink- 
Gelage machen uns in Osten und Westen verachtlich, und werden uns 
von den librigen Volkern als ein National-Laster vorgeworfen.' War- 
burton : ' i.e., this reveling that observes no hours, but continues from 
morning to night.' Johnson : ' I construe it thus : This heavy-headed 
revel makes us traduced east and west, and taxed of other nations.' 

(2) Haml., i, 2, 47 : ' The head (' blood,' Warb.) is not more native 
to the heart, the hand more instrumental to the mouth, than is the 
throne of Denmark to thy father.' (' Than to the throne of Denmark 
is thy father.' Warb., Johns.) W.: 'Das Haupt ist dem Herzen nicht 
unentbehrlicher, noch dem Munde der Dienst der Hand, als es dein 
Vater dem Throne von Dannemark ist.' 

For 'blood' instead of 'head' Warburton gave such an ingenious 
explanation that Hanmer accepted it for his second edition of Shake- 
speare. Johnson rejected this conjecture, but adopted the second 
(viii, p. 140) : ' Part of this emendation I have received, but cannot 
discern why the head is not as much native to the heart, as the blood, 
that is, natural and congenial to it, born with it, and co-operating with 
it.' Wieland and Johnson agree in both particulars. 

(3) Hand., i, 5, 77: 'Unhousel'd, disappointed ('unanointed,' Warb., 
' unappointed,' Theob.), unaneled.' W. : 'Ohne Vorbereitung, ohn Sacra- 
ment, ohne Furbitte.' Warburton : 'Unhousel'd, without the sacrament 
being taken. Mr Pope. Unanointed, without extreme unction. Mr 
Pope. Unanel'd, no bell rung. Mr Pope.' Theobald accepted Pope's 



R W. MEISNEST 11 

explanation for unhouseVd. For unanointed he put unappointed, ' i.e., 
no Confession of Sins made, no Reconciliation to Heaven, no Appoint- 
ment of Penance by the Church Unaneal'd must signify unanointed, 

not having the extreme unction.' Johnson (viii, p. 167) : 'Disappointed 
is the same as unappointed, and may be properly explained by unpre- 
pared.' This Wieland translated Avith : ' ohne Vorbereitung.' 

(4) Haml., ill, 1, 107 : ' That if you be honest and Mr, your honesty 
should (' you should,' Warb., Theob.) admit no discourse to your beauty.' 
W. : ' Wenn ihr tu^endhaft und schon seyd, so soil eure Tugend nicht 
zugeben, dass man eurer Schonheit Schmeicheleyen vorschwaze.' 
Johnson (viii, p. 157): 'The true reading seems to be: You should 
admit your honesty to no discourse with your beauty — The folio 
reads : your Jionesty shoidd admit no discourse to your beauty' which 
was translated by Wieland and is the present accepted reading. War- 
burton, Theobald and Hanmer have the same text (quarto) and have 
no footnote. 

(5) Haml, i, 3, 122 : ' Set your entreatments at a higher rate Than 
a command to parley.' W. : ' Sezt eure Conversationen auf einen hohern 
Preiss als einen Befehl, dass man euch sprechen wolle.' Johnson (vili, 
p. 157) : ' Intreatnients here means company, conversation, from the 
French entr'etien.' 

(6) Hand., ii, 2, 362: 'How are they escoted'? Johnson (viii, 
p. 195): 'Escoted, paid.' (See above, p. 7.) 

(7) Haml., ii, 1, 71: 'Observe his inclination in ('e'en,' Warb.) 
yourself W. : ' Ihr mlisst trachten, dass ihr durch euch selbst hinter 
seine Neigungen kommt.' Johnson (viii, p. 175): 'But perhaps in 
yourself means in your own person, not by spies.' Warburton's reading 
might possibly have suggested the same translation. 

(8) Haml., ii, 2, 362 : ' Will they pursue quality no longer than 
they can sing ? ' W. : ' Werden sie das Handwerk nur so lang treiben, 
als sie singen konnen ? ' Johnson (vili, p. 195) : ' Will they follow the 
profession of players no longer than they keep the voices of boys ?' 

(9) Haml., i, 3, 133 : 'I would not have you so slander any moment's 
leisure As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet.' W. : ' Ich 
mochte nicht gern, ...dass du nur einen einzigen deiner Augenblike 
in den Verdacht seztest, als wisstest du ihn nicht besser anzuwenden, 
als rait dem Prinzen Hamlet Worte zu wechseln.' Johnson (viii, 
p. 158): 'I would not have you so disgrace your most idle moments, 
as not to find better employment for them than Lord Hamlet's con- 
versation.' 



12 Wieland's Translation of Shakespeare 

(10) Haml., II, 2, 52 : ' My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.' 
W. : 'Meine Neuigkeit soil der Nachtisch von diesem grossen Schmause 
sein.' Johnson (vill, p. 180) : ' The fruit, The dessert after the meal.' 

(11) Haml., IV, 4, 33 : 'What is a man, If his chief good and market 
of his time. Be but to sleep and feed' ? W. : ' Was ist ein Mann, wenn 
alles was er mit seiner Zeit gewinnt, Essen und Schlafen ist ? ' John- 
son (viii, p. 255) : ' If his highest good, and that for whidi he sells Ins 
time, be to sleep and feed.' 

(12) Wint, 1, 2, 186 : 'O'er head and ears a fork'd one ! ' W. : ' liber 
Kopf und Ohren gehornt.' Johnson (ii, p. 243) : ' A fork'd one — That 
is, a horned one ; a cuckold.' 

(13) Witit., Ill, 2, 146 : ' The prince your son, w^ith mere conceit and 
fear Of the queen's speed, is gone.' W. : ' Der Prinz — euer Sohn — die 
Alteration iiber das Verhor der Konigin — er ist todt.' Incorrect, after 
Johnson (ii, p. 279): 'Of the event of the queen's trial' Johnson's 
Diet. : ' Speed, success, event of any action.' 

(14) Wint, V, 2, 176 : 'And I'll swear to the prince thou art a tall 
fellow of thy hands.' W. : ' Ich will dem Prinzen schweeren, dass du ein 
plumper Kerl mit deinen Handen seyst.' Johnson : ' Tall in that time, 
was the word used for stout' Johnson's Diet : ' Sturdy, lusty.' Boyer: 
' Haut, grand.' Wieland was misled by Johnson's note, since the con- 
text suggests the opposite meaning. 

La Place's Translation. 

The first book which brought a more or less systematic account 
of Shakespeare and his dramas to the continent was Luigi Riccoboni's 
Reflexions historiques et critiques sur les differens Theatres de V Europe 
(1738 ; pp. 156 — 178). Whether Wieland was acquainted with this work, 
which contains a brief sketch of Shakespeare's life and synopses of his 
important dramas, could not be determined. However, it is quite 
certain that he was familiar with Pierre Antoine de La Place's Le 
Theatre Anglois (London, 1746-8, 8 vols.), of which the first four 
volumes are devoted to Shakespeare^. 

In a footnote to Der Kaufmann von Venedig (vol. ii, p. 3) Wieland 
says : 

1 Vol. i: Diseours siir le Theatre Anglois (118 pp.), Vie de Shakespeare (24 pp.), 0th., 
S Hen. VI; vol. ii: Rich. Ill, Haml, Macb.; vol. m : Preface du Traducteur (26 pp.), 
Cymb., Caes., Ant. and synopses of John, Rich. II, 1 Hen. IV, 2 Hen. IV, Hen. V, 
1 Hen. VI, 2 Hen. VI, Hen. VIII, Lear, Tit., Cor., Troil., Rom.; vol. iv: Tim., Wiv., 
La Pucelle, par Fletcher, and synopses of Temp., Mids., Tivo Gent., Meas., Much Ado, 
Merch., L.L.L., A.Y.L., Shreiv, AlVs Well, Tw. N., Err., IViut, 



F. W. MEISNEST 13 

Die hauffige unci riihrende Schonheiten desselben alle Augenblike diirch un- 
gereimte Abialle, aufgedansene Figuren, frostige Antithesen, Wortspiele, mid alle 
nur mogliche Fehler des Ausdruks entstellt zu sehen, ist so widrig, dass der Ueber- 
sezer sich nicht hat enthalten konnen, an vieleii Orten sich lieber dem Vorwurf, der 
den Franzosischen Uebersezern gemacht zu werden pflegt, auszusezen, als durcli eine 
allzuschiichterne Treue dem Shakespear zu Schaden, und den Leser ungeduldig zu 
machen. 

The above reference may be to French translators in general, but 
more probably to La Place's Shakespeare, since no other French transla- 
tion of the dramas was published until Le Tourneur's in 1776. The 
fact that Wieland speaks of ' den Franzosischen Uebersezern ' may be 
due to his not having known that La Place was the translator, since his 
work was published anonymously. Furthermore, it must have been 
generally known to scholars, since it was extensively reviewed in both 
French and German periodicals. The Journal de Trevoux devoted 
at least seven articles to it^. Voltaire violently denounced it on 
account of its many omissions and too free adaptations^. It called 
forth Fiquet du Bocage's Lettre sur le Theatre Anglois, avec une 
Traduction de I'Avare de Shadwell et de la Femme de Oampagne de 
Wicherley (1752, 2 vols.), which was reviewed in Gottsched's periodical: 
Das Neueste aus der anmidhigen Gelehrsamkeit (Leipzig, 1753, vol. ill, 
pp. 128 — 136). Here, too, the same criticism is made concerning La 
Place: 

Die Franzoseu werden mehr und mehr auf ihre Nachbarn, sonderlich auf die 
Englander und Deutschen aufmerksam. Ausser andern Beweisen erhellet solches 
auch, aus diesem Schreiben liber die englische Schaubiihne. Es hat sehon vor 
kurzem ein gewis^er Mr. de L. P. ein Theatre Anglois iibersetzet herausgegeben. 
Der Verfasser dieses Briefes will ihm seinen Werth nicht absprechen : er will aber 
auch seineni Freunde nicht rathen, daraus einen andern Begriff von der englischen 
Biihne anzunehmen, als welchen er ihm bisher beygebracht. Er hat namlich seinem 
Originale sehr geschmauchelt, und aus den englischen dramatischen Stiicken gerade 
nur das Beste genommen, welches den Franzosen gefallen konnte. Man wurde sich 
aber sehr irren, wenn man glauben wollte, man hatte nun daraus den Shakespear und 
Ben Jonson recht nanh dem Leben kennen gelernet. Es war namlich nicht rathsam, 
alles wunderliche, unordentliche und niedrige Zeug aus des erstern Trauerspielen, 
einem franzosischen Leser bekannt zu machen. Bloss der ernsthafteste Inhalt des 
Trauerspiels konnte seinen Augen gefallen : hergegen die langen und pobelhaften 
Gesprache, die oft sehr Ubel angebracht worden ; die gar zu hochtrabenden und fast 
begeisterten Stiicke voUer Galimatias, die bin und wieder vorkommen, u. d. m. 
schickten sich gar nicht dazu. Darum hat Herr von L. P. sie klliglich ausgelassen. 
(Coming more directly to Shakespeare's plan's the review continues) : Behiite Gott, 
dass dieselben nicht ganz und gar lebendig dargestellet werden ! Man ist gliicklich, 
dass man nur etwas weniges von ihnen sieht. Wer mag wohl von alien seltsamen 
Einfallen, Reden und Ausschweifungen Nachricht haben, die ein grosser Mann 
gehabt und begangen, den man ins Tollhaus hat bringen mussen ? Diese Verglei- 
chung wird einem Englander hart bediinken : allein sie schieszt nicht weit vom Ziel. 
Es giebt schone Stiicke im Shakespeare : allein auch ein Narr sagt bisweilen was 

^ Jusserand, Shakespeare in France, p. 224. 
2 Lounsbury, Shakespeare and Voltaire, p. 174, 



] 4 Wielands Translation of Shakespeare 

gescheidtes. Dem Pobel zu gefallen, mengt er aiich viel niedertriichtiges mid 
possierliches Zeug mit unter. Das alles hat Herr L. P. unterschlagen, ja maiiche.s 
schlechte Stiick des Originals diirch seineti eigenen Witz verschonert. 

In the main this review is correct. La Place followed the general 
plan of Brumoy's Le Theatre des Grecs, translating the best and most 
important passages and giving synopses of the rest. Only one drama, 
Richard III, is complete. A footnote says : 

Cette Pitjce est traduite aussi litteralement, qu'il est possible (du inoins a 
I'Auteur de cette traduction) de rendre en Fran9ois ce que I'Original a de hardi, & do 
singulier. Ceux qui possedent le langage de Shakespear, ne trouveront snreraent 
r\en d'outre dans la manifere dont on h tache de le transmettre dans notre Langue. 

Nine dramas are translated more freely ; occasional passages and 
scenes are in verse — usually in Alexandrine rhymed couplets ; synopses 
are given of the omitted scenes. The synopses of twenty-six dramas 
vary from two to nine pages for each drama. Stage directions are 
more numerous and complete than in any of the editions of Rowe, 
Pope, Theobald, Hanmer, or Warbiirton. The entrance or exit of a 
player is the basis of scene-division, giving many more scenes in each 
drama than in any of the above-mentioned editions. This indicates that 
La Place must have used as his original a stage-edition of Shakespeare, 
very probably : The English Theatre : a Collection of Tragedies and 
Comedies from the most celebrated Authors (London, 1731-3, 26 vols.). 

Of the ten dramas translated by La Place, six are translated by 
Wieland : 0th., Haml., Mach., Caes., Ant. and Tim,. A careful examina- 
tion of 0th. and a general comparison of the other five dramas in both 
translations show no traces of direct dependence of Wieland upon La 
Place. Occasionally the same scene is summarized in both translations, 
but just as frequently it is translated in one and summarized in the 
other. The passages omitted in both translations rarely correspond. 
La Place's translation contains but one comedy (Wiv.), Wieland's has 
ten. However some parallels exist which may or may not indicate 
dependence. La Place's translation begins with a lengthy discourse 
on the English stage ; Wieland's with Pope's Preface. La Place's 
Vie de Shakespeare is largely a summary of Rowe's Life of Shake- 
speare ; Wieland's Lebens- JJmstdnde, etc., is a translation of the 
same (with a few passages omitted). The pages of La Place are 
frequently provided with foot-notes similar to those in Wieland. Both 
translate the grave-diggers' scene in Hamlet and make similar remarks : 
' Je n'ai tente de traduire cette Scene, que parce qu'elle est fameuse 
en Angleterre ; & a cause de sa rare singularite ' ; ' man wtirde diese 
ganze Scene eben sogern ausgelassen haben, wenn man dem Leser 



F. W. MEISNEST 15 

nicht eine Idee von cler berlichtigten Todtengraber- Scene hatte geben 
wollen.' From the standpoint of scholarship and advanced criticism La 
Place's Discours sur le Theatre Anglois remained unequalled until the 
appearance of Samuel Johnson's Preface to his edition of Shakespeare 
(1765). This discourse may well have contributed to Wieland's con- 
ception of Shakespeare. 

It is possible that a more careful and detailed comparison of the two 
entire translations might produce more positive results. The task, 
however, seemed fruitless. The plan and purpose of the two translators 
were altogether different. La Place's Shakespeare is little more than a 
book of samples, whereas Wieland's, so far as it goes, is fairly complete. 
The one drama {Rich. Ill) which La Place translated completely and 
rather literally, Wieland did not translate at all, and the difficult and 
doubtful passages in the other dramas, where Wieland occasionally 
varied from his original (e.g., Haml., i, 5, 77: 'Unhousel'd, disappointed, 
unaneled'), La Place invariably omitted. This makes it difficult if not 
impossible to give positive proof of Wieland's dependence upon La Place 
by a comparison of the two translations. 

Purpose and Conception. 

In order to do full justice to Wieland's translation it is necessary to 
take into consideration the attitude of contemporary critics and scholars 
towards such an undertaking. Custom had practically made it a 
fixed principle that the great foreign classics be made available by 
means of partial translations and synopses. This is what Brumoy in 
his Theatre des Grecs (1730) and La Place in Le Theatre Anglois (1746) 
had done. Thus Homer had been treated in Pope's translation (1715), 
and Milton's Paradise Lost in Bodmer's version (1732). Meinhard's 
Versuche ilber den Gharakter und die Werke der hesten italienischen 
Dichter (1763-4) followed the same plan. Sulzer had suggested this 
method in his letter of Jan. 14, 1759 : 

Wenn doch ein geschickter Kopf die xlrbeit ubernehmen wollte, diese Scliau- 
spiele im Deutschen so zu analysiren, wie Pfere Brumoy mit dem griechischen Theater 
gethan hat. Soweit ich gekommen bin, ist kein Drama, das man ganz ubersetzen 
diirfte. Man wiirde nur den Plan derselben durchgehen, die Scenen oder Stellen 
aber, welche wirkUche Schonheit besitzen, auszeichnen und alles auf eine kritisehe 
Manier verrichten^. 

Weisse in the Bihliothek der schonen Wissenschaften (ix, 261, 1763) 
in the review of Wieland's first volume insisted on Brumoy 's plan : 

1 Briefe von Sulzer, Geilfuss, 1866, p. 8, 



16 Wieland's Trcmslation of Shakespeare 

Wir glaubten also, dass wenn ja mit dem Shakespear in unsrer Sprache etwas 
vorzunehmen ware, dass man den Weg des Brumoy mit dem griechischen Theater 
einschlagen soUte, und einen Auszug von Scene zu Scene liefern, um die Oekonomie 
des Stiicks, und die Sitnationen, die Shakespear oft so gKicklicli herbey zu fiihren 
weiss, nicht zu verlieren, die schonsten und besten Stellen und Scenen aber ganz zu 
iibersetzen. 

In 1788 the same periodical, reviewing Eschenburg's Uber W. 
Shakespeare, still insisted upon its former judgment : 

Wie sehr ware es also nicht zu wiinschen gewesen, Ilr. Wieland hatte gleich 
damals den Weg eingeschlagen, auf den jene Rec. hinzeigte. Er war ganz der Mann 
dazu, ihn wiirdig zu betreten....Wir wiederholen den Wimsch, dass man den 
Deutsehen nur eine Auswahl der schonsten Scenen Shakespears und von den 
iibrigen einen blossen Auszug und keine wortliche Uebersetzung geliefert haben 
mochte, die sowohl dem Publikuni, als dem Dichter selbst, der sich nun aus der- 
selben, und gleichsam als unsern Zeitgenossen beurtheilen lassen muss, mehr 
geschadet als genutzt hat. 

Even Lessing in his 17th Litteraturhrief (1759) recommended a 
translation of Shakespeare with the proviso : ' mit einigen bescheidenen 
Veranderungen.' With Garrick omitting the grave-diggers' scene in 
Hamlet on the Drury Lane stage in London, and playing Shakespeare's 
plays in an abridged and expurgated edition ; with critics like Weisse, 
Nicolai and Gerstenberg publicly proclaiming the impossibility and 
undesirability of systematically translating Shakespeare, all the more 
credit is due to Wieland for boldly attempting the difficult task with a 
purpose far in advance of his time : 

Es kann eine sehr gute Ursache haben, warum der Uebersezer eines Originals, 
welches bey vielen grossen Schonheiten eben so grosse Mangel hat, und iiberhaupt in 
Absicht des Ausdruks roh, und incorrect ist, fiir gut findet, es so zu iibersezen, wie es 
ist. Shakespear ist an tausend Orten in seiner eignen Sprache hart, steif, schwulstig, 
schielend ; so ist er audi in der Uebersezung, denn man wollte ihn den Deutsehen so 
bekaimt machen, wie er ist. Pope hat den Homer in Absicht des Ausdruks ver- 
schonert, und wie die Kenner, selbst in England sagen, oft zu viel verschonert. Das 
konnte bey einem Homer angehen, dessen Simplicitat sich schwerlich in irgend einer 
Sprache, welche nicht die eigentlichen Vcrziige der griechischen hat, ohne Nachtheil 
des Originals copieren lasst. Bey unserm Englander 'hat es eine ganz andere 
Bewandtniss. Sobald man ihn verschonern wollte, wiirde er aufhoren, Shakespear 
zu seyn. 

Thus Wieland defended his translation in the last volume (ill, p. 
566), against the severe criticisms of Weisse, Nicolai and Gerstenberg. 
Again in Teutscher Merkur (iii,pp. 187, 1773), referring to the proposed 
new edition of his translation he says : 

Der Verbessei'cr wird nur zu manche Stellen, wo der Sinn des Originals verfehlt 
oder nicht gut genug ausgedriickt worden, und iiberhaupt vieles zu polieren und zu 
ergiinzen finden. Aber mochte er sich vor der Verschonerungssucht htiten, untor 
welcher Shakespears Genie mehr leiden wiirde, als unter meiner vielleicht allzu 
gewissenhaften Treue ! Mein Vorsatz...war, meinen Autor mit alien seinen Fehlern 
zu iibersetzen ; und dies um so mehr, well mir dauchte, dass sehr oft seine Fehler 
selbst eine Art von Schonheiten sind. 



F. W. MEISNEST 17 

That Wieland speaks of the faults of Shakespeare in connection 
with his beauties is not surprising and is no disparagement of his con- 
ception of the great dramatist. In the preface of every Shakespeare 
edition of that time we find his ' faults ' enumerated and extensively 
discussed. Even Samuel Johnson who perhaps expressed the most 
advanced view on Shakespeare in the eighteenth century, said in his 
Preface (1765) : 'Shakespeare with his excellencies has likewise faults, 
and faults sufficient to obscure and overwhelm any other merit. I shall 
shew them in the proportion in which they appear to me, without 
envious malignity or superstitious veneration,' whereupon he proceeds 
to discuss not less than twelve defects. Critics universally attributed 
these faults, following the dictum of Alexander Pope in his Preface 
(1725), to the perverted taste of the populace for whom Shakespeare 
wrote. Wieland had a more rational explanation (Merkiir, ill, p, 184, 
1773): 

Die wahre Quelle dieser Mangel liegt nicht, (wie man zu sagen gewohnt ist), in 
der Ansteckung des falschen Geschmacks seiner Zeit, — denn ein Geist wie der 
seinige liisst sich nicht so leicht anstecken — noch in einer vinedlen Gefalligkeit 
gegen denselben — denn wie frey und stark sagt er nicht im Sommernachts-Traum 
und im Hamlet den Dichtern, den Schauspielern und dem Publico die Wahrheit ? — • 
sie liegt in der Grosse und in dem Umfang seines Geistes. Sein Genius iimfasst, 
gleich dem Genius der Natur, mit gleich scharfem Blick Sonnen und Sonnenstaub- 
chen, den Elephanten und die Milbe, den Engel und den Wurm ; er schildert mit 
gleich meisterhaftem Pinsel den Menschen und den Caliban, den Mann mid das 
Weib, den Helden und den Schurken, den Weisen und den Narren, die grosse und 
die schwache, die reizende und die hassliche Seite der menschlichen Natur, eine 
Kleopatra und ein Austerweib, den Konig Lear und Tom Bedlam, eine Miranda und 
eine Lady Macbeth, einen Hamlet, und einen Todtengraber. Seine Schauspiele 
sind, gleich dem grossen Schauspiele der Natur, voller anscheinenden Unordnving ; — 
Paradiese, Wildnisse, Auen, Siimpfe, bezauberte Thaler, Sandwiisten, fruchtbare 
Alpen, starrende Gletcher ; Cedern und Erdschwamme, Rosen und Distelkopfe. 
Fasanen und Fledermause, Menschen und Vieh, Seraphim und Ottergeziichte, 
Grosses und Kleines, Warmes und Kaltes, Trocknes und Nasses, Schones und 
Ungestaltes, Weisheit und Thorheit, Tugend und Laster, — alles seltsam durch- 
einander geworfen — und gleichwohl, aus dem rechten Standpuncte betrachtet, alles 
zusammen genommen, ein grosses, herrliches unverbesserliches Ganzes ! 

How infinitely superior is this view of Shakespeare to that of 
Voltaire, which is nowhere more tersely described than in Wieland's 
own words (Merkur, iii, p. 184, 1773): 

Es ist leicht, dem Sophisten Voltaire, (welcher von dem Dichter Voltaire wohl 
zu unterscheiden ist), der weder Englisch genug weiss, um ihn zu verstehen, noch, 
wenn er Englisch genug konnte, den unverdorbnen Geschmack hat, der dazu gehort, 
seinen ganzen Werth zu empfinden — es ist leicht, sage ich, diesem Voltaire und 
seines gleichen nachzulallen : Shakespear ist unregelmassig ; seine Stiicke sind 
ungeheure Zwitter von Tragodie und Possenspiel, wahre Tragi- Komi- Lyrico- 
Pastoral-Fargen ohne Plan, ohne Verbindung der Scenen, ohne Einheiten; ein 
geschmackloser Mischmasch von Erhabnen und Niedrigen, von Pathetischen und 
Lacherlichen, von achtem und falschem Witz, von Laune und Unsinn, von Gedanken 



18 Wieland's Translation of Shakespeare 

die eines Weisen, und von Possen, die eines Pickeliieriiigs wiirdig sind; von Ge- 
mahlden, die einem Homer Ehre brachten, und von Karrikaturen, dereu sich ein 
Scarron schanien vviirde. 

Omissions. 

Although it was Wieland's general purpose to translate Shake- 
speare's plays just as they are, nevertheless in the strict sense not one 
drama is translated completely. The important dramas are nearest to 
being complete : Mids., Temp., Haml., Caes., Rom., Lear, Macb., 0th., 
and Merck. The greatest omissions occur in : Tw. N., Gent, Much Ado, 
Wint., 1 and 2 Hen. IV. In only one drama is an entire act missing 
(Ttu. N., v). In addition sixteen entire scenes (Globe ed.) are lacking: 
Mack, III, 5; Much Ado, v, 3; A.Y.L., m, 3; v, 1 ; Wint., i, 1; iv, 1 and 3; 
1 Hen. IV, II, 1; ill, 3; 2 Hen. IV, ii, 4; v, 4; Tw. N., i, 3; ii, 3; in, 2 
and 3; iv, 1. Usually a brief synopsis of the omitted passage is given, 
which occasionally appears in a footnote (2 Hen. IV, II, 1, 112 — 209). 
As typical examples of these synopses I would refer to 1 Hen. IV, ii, 1, 
1_57 and 58—106 (Stadler's edition, ii, pp. 497—8). 

In the following the first figure indicates the number of times 
longer omissions, i.e., entire speeches or scenes, occur, and the second the 
corresponding number of times synopses are given: Tw., 11 — 9; Gent., 
8—1 ; Wint., 13—3 ; 1 Hen. IV, 4—3 ; 2 He7i. IV, 10—4; Rom., 4—3; 
Much Ado, 6—2 ; Haml., 3—2 ; Lear, 1—0. 

Occasionally sample passages are translated only to give the reader 
an idea of the original. Thus the grave-diggers' scene in Ha7nlet, with 
the exception of the songs, is translated with the explanation : 

Man wiirde diese ganze Scene eben sogern ausgelassen haben, wenn man dem 
Leser nicht eine Idee von der beriichtigten Todtengraber-Scene hatte geben wollen. 

After translating a part of the tavern scene (1 Hen. IV, ii, 4) 
Wieland adds : 

Diese unvollkommene Probe wird den Leser vermuthlich geneigt machen, dem 
Uebersezer in Absicht der Falstaffischen Scenen VoUmacht zu geben, dariiber nach 
eignem Belieben zu schalten. Man muss ein Englander seyn, diese Scenen von 
Englandern spielen sehen, und eine gute Portion Pounsch dazu im Kopfe haben, um 
den Geschmak daran zu finden ^. 

Omissions occur most frequently in the last act of a drama, so that 
Wieland was guilty of the same charge which he brought against 
Shakespeare in his excuse for omitting the last act in Twelfth Night : 

Man weiss schon, dass die Anlegung des Plans und die Entwiklung des Knotens 
diejenigen Theile nicht sind, worinn unser Autor vortrefflich ist. Hier scheint er, 

1 Cf. also 2 Hen. IV, ii, 1, 67—122. 



F. W. MEISNESt 19 

wie es ihm mehrmal in den fiinften Aufziigen begegnet, begieriger gewesen zu seyn, 
sein Stiik fertig zu machen, als von Situationen worein er seine Personen gesezt hat, 
Vortheil zu ziehen. Wir werden uns daher begniigen, den blossen Inhalt jeder Scene 
auszuziehen. 

In Hamlet all of the longer omissions are in the last act (v, 1,112 — 26; 
2, 1—218 ; 2, 406—14) ; also in Mids. {v, 1, 378—445). On the other 
hand six of the thirteen longer omissions in Wint. are in the fourth act 
(IV, 1, 1—32; 3, 1—135; 4, 220—60; 4, 322—39; 4, 469—604; 4, 
636—82). 

The omission of single words and short expressions is more or less 
frequent in all dramas, e.g., 135 in HaniL, 40 in Wint and 2.5 in Lear. 
In regard to omissions Wieland was more faithful to the original text 
in the dramas first translated than in the last. 

The reasons for these omissions seem to be various. Episodes, 
interludes, or parts which the translator regarded as unessential to the 
plot, are left untranslated. Concerning Ihe Hamlet-Horatio scene 
(v, 2, 1 — 80) Wieland says : ' Da diese ganze Scene nur zur Benach- 
richtigung dient, so waren zwey Worte hinlanglich gewesen, ihnen zu 
sagen was sie ohnehin leicht errathen konnten.' Usually parts consisting 
of clown or rabble scenes, interspersed with songs, puns, ambiguous or 
vulgar expressions are pronounced untranslatable. Footnotes like the 
following are frequent : 

Hier folgt im Original eine Zwischen-Scene von der pobelhaftesten Art, die des 
Uebersezens nicht wiirdig ist {A.Y.L.^ in, 8). Hier haben etliche non-sensicalische 
Zeilen ausgelassen werden miissen {Rom., i, i, 205 — 6). Man hat gut gefunden, 
diese Rede zu verandern und abzukiirzen. Sie ist im Original die Grundsuppe der 
abgeschmaktesten Art von Wiz, und des Characters einer Mutter ausserst unwiirdig 
{Rom., I, 3, 79 — 95). Hier folgt im Original eine uniibersezliche Zwischen-Scene 
zwischen dem Narren, seiner Liebste, und zween Pagt-n, die ein Liedlein singen' 
{A. Y.L., V, 3). 

For Falstaff's : 'Away you scullion ! you rampallian ! you fustilarian! 
I'll tickle your catastrophes' (2 Hen. IV, ii, 1, 65), Wieland inserts: 
' Dumme Schimpfworter.' Falstaff's reply to the hostess: 'I think I am 
as like to ride the mare, if I have any vantage of ground to get up ' 
(2 Hen. IV, II, 1, 84 — 5), is dismissed with 'Eine Zote.' The many puns 
are usually omitted and declared untranslatable : ' Der Spass ligt hier 
in einem Wortspiel, das sich nicht libersezen lasst ' {Meas., iv, 2, 3 — 5). 
Metaphorical expressions, proverbial sayings and general reflexions 
within speeches are frequently omitted. Likewise passages of difficult 
or doubtful meaning, especially when accompanied with Warburton's or 
Pope's conjectural explanation (HamL, I, 1, 93 — 5 ; i, 4, 36 — 8 ; iv, 3, 
63), and those lines regarded by Warburton as interpolations {Hand., 



20 Wielancrs Translation of Shakesj^eare 

111, 2, 34 — 6 ; Lear, iii, 1, 8 — 9) are usually omitted. Most of the songs 
and rhymed passages are lacking. 

The omission of the entire fifth act in Twelfth Night, the last drama 
of vol. VII, as well as the relatively larger number of omissions in the last 
drama of each of the last four volumes (2 Hen. IV, Two Gent., Tw. N., 
Wint.), was undoubtedly due to the size of the volumes as determined by 
the publishers. According to the agreement each volume was to contain 
three dramas, for which Wieland received 12 louis d'or and fifty free 
copies-^. From Wieland's letters to Salomon Gessner we may judge that 
the size of each volume was about 30 sheets, or 480 pages ^. But the 
average number of pages for the eight volumes is only 439, or consider- 
ably less than 30 sheets. Vol. vii already had two large dramas : Romeo 
and Othello, which filled 403 pages. Another complete drama would 
have increased it to over 600 pages, or far beyond the average. Hence 
the necessity of abridging Twelfth Night. 

Additions. 
Wieland occasionally adds words, phrases, and even entire sentences 
which do not occur in the original text. About fifty such additions are 
found in Haml. ; fewer in 0th. and Wint., and practically none in Lear. 
Usually these additions serve to elucidate or emphasize an idea. ' Haml., 
I, 4, 29 : ' Or by some habit that too much o'er-leavens The form of 
plausive manners,' ' oder wegen irgend einer angewcihnten Manier, einer 
Grimasse oder so etwas, welches mit dem eingefiihrten Wohlstand 
einen allzugrossen Abstand macht.' Haml., ii, 2, 528 : 'Run barefoot up 
and down,' 'Wie sie, in Verzweijiung, mit nakten Fiissen auf- und 
nieden-annte.' Haml., ii, 2, 459 : ' An excellent play, well digested in 
the scenes,' ' ein vortreffliches Sttik, viel Einfalt und doch viel Kunst in 
der Anlage des Plans, und die Scenen wol disponiert.' Courteous 
expressions are sometimes inserted. Haml., ii, 2, 95 : ' More matter 
with less art,' 'Mehr Stoff mit weniger Kunst, wenn ich bitten darf 
Haml., II, 2, 451 : ' We'll have a speech straight,' ' eine htibsche Scene, 
wenn ich bitten darf The numerous stage-directions added by Wieland 
indicate that he used some stage edition, very probably The English 
Theatre, London, 1761, 14 vols., which may contain Shakespeare's plays. 
This was in his library at his death '^. Wint, i, 2, 86 : ' Leontes. Is he 

^ Schnorr"s Archiv, vn, p. 491. 

- Cf. Wieland's correspondence on the size of vol. viii, in Denkicurdiije Briefe, pp. 26 f. 

" Seutfert, Prolegomena iii, p. 6. It was impossible to locate any edition of The 
English Theatre (1731-3, 26 Vols., 1742, 16 Vols.) prior to 1765 in the British Museum or 
any of the large University libraries of Germany, England and United States. The 
edition (8 Vols., 1765) in the Staatsbibliothek of Munich does not contain Shakespeare. 



F. W. MEISNEST 21 

won yet V ' Leontes (der sich eine Weile von ihnen entfernt hatte, um 
sie zu beobachten, und izt wieder auf sie zugeht, zu Hermione). 1st 
er nun gewonnen ? ' Wiiit., ill, 2, 143 : ' Servant. My lord the king, 
the kingl' ' Bedienter (erschroken und zitternd). Gnadigster, Gnadigster 
HeiT — ' Lear, iii, 4, 12: 'the tempest in my mind Doth from my 
senses take all feeling else Save what beats there,' ' der Sturm in 
meinem Gemtith nimmt meinen Sinnen alles andre Gefiihl, als was 
hier schlagt (Er zeigt auf sein Herz).' Lear, iv, 2, 21 : ' Wear this, 
spare speech ; decline your head ' (Warburton). ' Traget diss (sie giebt 
ihm ich weiss nicht was), sparet die Worte, (leise) drehet den Kopf ein 
wenig.' (Cf also Lear, iv, 6, 41 ; lY, 7, 70 : Tim., ill, 6, 92.) 

Incorrect Translations. 

The various incorrect translations in every drama are due to mis- 
understanding of the English text, incorrect text or commentary, or 
arbitrary changes, distributed in three di'amas as follows : 

Due to Rami. 

(1) Misunderstanding .... 59 

(2) IncoiTect text or commentary . 27 

(3) Arbitrary change . . . .17 

103 

In general about one half of the incorrect translations are due to a 
misunderstanding of the text and an insufficient knowledge of the 
English language. The following examples are taken from ILamlet. 
I, 1, 174: 'and I this morning know Where we shall find him most 
conveniently.' W. : ' Wir werden diesen Morgen schon erfahren, wo wir 
ihn zur gelegensten Zeit sprechen konnen.' ii, 2, 355 : ' little eyases, that 
cry out at the top of question, and are most tyrannically clapped fort.' 
W. : ' Kleine Kichelchen, die beym Haupt-Wort eines Sazes aus alien 
Kraften ausgiillen, mid auch jammerlich genug geschlagen werden, bis 
sie es so gut gelernt haben.' 

The various uses of the word ' that ' were at times misunderstood. 
Hand., I, 2, 31 : ' in that the levies. The lists and full proportions, are 
all made Out of his subject.' W. : Es sind alle Umstande, die Anzahl 
seiner angeworbnen Truppen, die Namen der angesehendsten Theil- 
nehmer seines Vorhabens, und seine ganze Starke hierinn (i.e., the 
letter) enthalten. Haml., ii, 2, 292 : ' That you must teach me.' W. : 
'Dass ihr mich ausforschen sollt.' Rami., ii, 2, 439 : 'for look, where my 
abridgment comes.' W. : 'Aber da kommen die ehrlichen Leute, die mir 



Lear 


Wint. 


28 


19 


33 


8 


3 


4 


64 


31 



22 Wieland's Translation of Shakespeare 

heraushelfen.' Haml, i, 2, 204: 'thrice he walk'd... Within his trun- 
cheon's length.' W. : 'Dreymal gieng er...mit seinem langen Stok in 
der Hand, hin und her.' 

From one-third to one -fourth of the incorrect translations are due 
to Warburton's misleading textual conjectures or explanations. Haml., 
I, 2, 167: 'Good even, sir' ('morning, sir,' Warb.); W.: 'Guten Morgen.' 
Haml.,i, 3, 79 : 'And it must follow, as the night (light, Warb.) the day '; 
W. : 'Denn daraus folget so notwendig als das Licht dem Tage.' Haml., 
I, 4, 73 : ' Which might deprive (deprave, Warb.) your sovereignty of 
reason' ; W. : 'Welche euern Verstand verwirren...konnte' (Warb.'s note : 
' i.e., disorder your understanding'). Haml., ii, 1, 79 : ' his stockings 
foul'd' ('loose,' Warb.); W. : 'Seine Strtimpfe nicht aufgezogen.' Haml., 
Ill, 3, 66 : 'Yet what can it when one can not repent' ('can but repent,' 
Warb.) ? W. : ' Aber was vermag blosse unfruchtbare Reue ? ' Haml., 
Ill, 4, 51 : ' Queen. Ay me what act. That roars so loud, and thunders in 
the index ? ' (Queen. Ay me ! what act ? Haml. : That roars so loud, it 
thunders to the Indies. Warb.). W. : ' Konigin. Weh mir, was fur 
eine That ? Haml. : Die so laut brlillt, dass sie bis in die Indien 
donnert.' 

Occasionally incorrect and inaccurate translations are due to 
arbitrary changes. Thus a mere word may be changed : Haml., Ill, 
1, 62: 'heartache,' ' Kopfweh' ; iv, 7, 183: 'melodious lay,' 'Schwanen- 
Gesang'; IV, 1, 10: 'a rat, a rat!' 'eine Maus'; i, 1, 50: 'It is offended,' 
' Es ist unwillig.' Entire sentences may be changed : Haml., ill, 2, 9 : 
' O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow 
tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the ground- 
lings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable 
dumb-shows and noise.' W. : ' O, es ist mir in der Seele zuwider, wenn 
ich einen breitschultrichten Ltimmel in einer grossen Peruke vor mir 
sehe, der eine Leidenschaft zu Fezen zerreisst, und um pathetisch zic 
seyn,sich nicht anders gebeJwdet, als luie ein toller Mensch; abei' gemeiaig- 
lich sind solche Gesellen aiich nichts anders fahig als Lerm und seltsame 
■wnnaturliche Gesticulationen za machen.' Haml., iv, 7, 174: 'There... 
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke ; When down her weedy 
trophies and herself Fell in the weeping brook.' W. : ' Wie sie nun an 
diesem Baum hinankletterte...(7/ii{6'c7<^e der Boden mit ikr, und sie fiel 
mit ihren Kranzen in der Hand ins Wasser.' Hand., iv, 3, 7 : ' To bear 
all smooth and even, This sudden sending him away must seem 
Deliberate pause.' W. : ' Gliiklicher Weise fligt es sich, dass dieser 
Vorfall zu seiner plozlichen Verschikung einen Vorwand giebt.' 



F. W. MEISNEST 23 

In addition to the more obvious incorrect translations there are a 
number of minor inaccurate translations in every drama. About forty 
occur in Hamlet, as: i, 1, 2 : 'Nay, answer me.' W.: ' Nun, gebt Antwort,' 
(Steevens: 'i.e. me who am already on the watch'). I, 3, 1: 'My necessaries 
are embarked.' W. : ' Mein Gerathe ist eingepakt.' iv, 7, 171: 'That 
liberal shepherds give a gTosser name.' W. : ' Denen unsre ehrlichen 
Schafer einen natiirlichen Namen geben.' 

Free Translations. 

In regard to translating freely or literally Wieland did not follow a 
uniform course. The dramas translated first, as Mids., Lear, are too 
literal, those last are too free, as Haml., 0th., Wint. Only four passages 
translated too freely were discovered in Lear to over forty in Hamlet 
No doubt Wieland was influenced by Weisse's criticism (Bibl. der Sch. 
Wiss., IX, 262, 1763): 'Die allzu sklavische wortliche Uebersetzung 
macht sie oft ekel und unverstandlich ' in his review of Vol. i, as w^ell 
as by Voltaire's violent denunciation of literal translations : ' Malheur 
aux feseurs de traductions litterales, qui, traduisant chaque parole, 
enervent le sens! C'est bien la qu'on pent dire que la lettre tue, et 
que I'esprit vivifie,' in his Lettres sur les Anglais (xviii, 1734). As a 
model Voltaire added a ridiculously free translation of Hamlet's soliloquy: 
' To be or not to be ' in rhymed verse. The same appears also in 
Voltaire's : Appel a toutes les Nations de I'Europe (1761), accompanied 
by an extremely literal translation in prose, grossly exaggerated. The 
latter essay was reprinted in 1764 under the title : Du Theatre Anglais 
par Jerome Garre^. To this essay Wieland must refer in a footnote to 
Rom., I, 1, 125 : 

' Madam, an hour before the worshipp'd sun Peer'd forth the golden window of 
the east.' W. : ' Madam, eine Stunde eh die Sonne aufging. Im Original : Eh die 
angebetete Sonne sich durch das goldue Fenster des Osten sehen Uess. Es ist nichts 
leichteres, als durch eine allzuwortliche Uebersezung den Shal<;espear lacherlich 
zu machen, wie der Herr von Voltaire neuhch mit einer Scene aus dem Hamlet eine 
Probe gemacht, die wir an gehorigem Ort ein wenig naher untersuchen wollen^.' 

The following are typical examples of free translations: Lear, l, 1, 
155 : ' Nor are those empty-hearted whose low sound Re verbs no 
hollowness.' W. : ' Meynest du, ihr Herz sey weniger voll, weil es 
einen schwachern Klang von sich giebt, als diejenigen, deren hohler Ton 
ihre Leerheit wiederhallt.' Haml., ill, 2, 6 : ' for in the very torrent, 

1 Jusserand, Shakespeare in France, p. 369. 
" This further investigation was not made. 



24 Wieland's Translation of Shakespeare 

tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire 
and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.' W. : ' Denn 
selbst in dem heftigsten Strom, Sturm und Wirbelwind einer Leiden- 
schaft mtisst ihr eure Bewegungen so gut in eurer Gewalt haben, dass 
sie etwas edels und anstandiges behalten.' Haml., iv, 1, 30 : ' and this 
vile deed We must, with all our majesty and skill. Both countenance 
and excuse.' W. : ' Und was diese bose That betrifft, so werden wir 
alles unsers Ansehens und unsrer Klugheit nothig haben, um ihren 
Folgen vorzubauen.' 

Wieland occasionally resorts to free translations in doubtful or 
obscure passages. Lear; il, 2, 131 : ' None of these rogues and cowards 
But Ajax is their fool.' W. : ' Es ist keiner von diesen Schlingeln und 
Memmen, der nicht den Ajax zu seinem Muster mache.' Haml, i, 2, 
65 : ' A little more than kin, and less than kind.' W. : ' Lieber nicht so 
nah befreundt, und weniger geliebt.' Haml., ii, 2, 463 : ' nor no matter 
in the phrase, that might indict the author of affectation' (affection, 
Warb.). W. : ' Keine Redensarten noch Schwtinge, worinn man statt 
der redenden Person den sich selbst gefallenden Autor hort.' Haml., 
Ill, 2, 25 : ' to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and 
the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.' W. : ' Der 
Tugend ihre eigne wahre Gestalt und Proportion zu zeigen, und die 
Sitten der Zeit, bis auf ihre kleinsten Ztige und Schattierungen nach 
dem Leben gemahlt darzustellen.' 

Verbose translations occur rarely in the first dramas translated, but 
frequently in the last ones. Hand., i, 1, 33: 'What we have two nights 
seen.' W. : 'Deren Inhalt wir doch zwo Nachte nach einander mit unseren 
Augen gesehen haben.' Haml.,i, 1, 146: 'And our vain blows malicious 
mockery.' W. : ' Und unsre eiteln Streiche beweisen ihm nur unsern 
bosen Willen, ohne ihm wtirklich etwas anzuhaben.' Haml., i, 2, 15 : 
' which have freely gone With this affair along. For all, our thanks.' 
W. : ' Und erkennen mit gebiihrendem Danke, dass ihr uns in diesem 
ganzen Geschaffce durch eure einsichtsvollen Ratschlage so frey und 
gutwillig unterstlizt habt.' Haml., i, 3, 59 : ' Give thy thoughts no 
tongue, Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.' W. : ' Gieb deinen 
Gedanken keine Zunge, und wenn du je von unregelmassigen liber- 
rascht wirst, so htite dich wenigstens, sie zu Handlungen zu machen.' 
Haml., Ill, 2, 2 : ' trippingly on the tongue.' W. : ' Mit dem natiir- 
lichen Ton und Accent, wie man im gemeinen Leben spricht.' 

In the last dramas longer passages are occasionally contracted into 
a few words giving the general idea. Haml., i, 2, 124 : ' in grace 



F. W. MEISNEST 25 

whereof, No jocund health that Denmark drinks to-day But the great 
cannon to the clouds shall tell, And the king's rouse the heavens shall 
bruit again, Re-speaking earthly thunder.' W. : ' Dass dieser Tag ein 
festlicher Tag der Freude seyn soil.' Haml., iv, 7, 89 : ' so far he 
topp'd my thought, That I, in forgery of shapes and tricks, Come short 
of what he did.' W. : ' Er ubertraf alles, was man sich davon einbilden 
kan.' Hand., v, 1, 236: 'Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay, 
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away : O, that that earth, which 
kept the world in awe, Should patch a wall to expel the winter's 
flaw ! ' W. : ' Und so kan der Welt-Bezwinger Casar eine Spalte in 
einer Mauer gegen den Wind gestoppt haben.' 

Rhymed Verse. 

Undoubtedly the greatest defect of Wieland's translation is his 
treatment of the various kinds of verse-forms. The omission of most 
of the songs and rhymed passages called forth the severe criticism 
of Herder who pronounced the translation ' barbaric ' and translated 
them himself. Apparently Wieland's original purpose was to translate 
all verse as well as prose ; for in the first drama translated, Mids., only 
one (v, 1, 378 — 445) of the eighteen songs contained therein was 
omitted. But he soon found this task too laborious. The following 
table shows the number of songs and rhymed passages translated and 
omitted in thirteen dramas: Rom., — 2; Mids., 17 — 1; Temp., 3 — 5; 
A.Y.L., 5—8; Wint, 0—6; Merck, 3—1; Tim., 0—1; Meas., 0—1; 
2 Hen. IV, 0—4; Much Ado, 0—3; Two Gent, 0—1; Lear, 6—10; 
Haml., 11 — 3; total translated 45, omitted 46\ 

About three-fourths of the songs translated by Wieland were 
accepted by Eschenburg. From Mids. Schlegel borrowed four (l, 2, 
33_40; V, 1, 281—92; 1, 300—11; 1, 331—54). One of Wieland's 
best translations is Bottom's song in Mids., i, 2, 33 — 40 : ' The raging 
rocks,' etc. W.: 'Der Felsen Schooss Und toller Stoss Zerbricht das 
Schloss der Kerkerthur, Und Febbus Karr'n, Kommt angefahr'n, 
Und raacht erstarr'n, Des stolzen Schiksals Zier ! ' The thought as 
well as the metre of the original is here well preserved. Also Thisbe's 
song was successfully reproduced {Mids., v, 1, 331 — 54): 'Asleep, my 

1 Songs translated are : Mids. all except v. 1, 378-445. Temp., i, 2, 396-407 ; ii, 1, 
300-5; V, 1, 88—94. A.Y.L., ii, 5, 1-8 ; 5, 52-9; in, 2, 93-100 ; 2, 107-18 ; iv, 3, 40-63. 
Merch., ii, 7, 66-73; 9, 6;-i-78; in, 2, 132-9. Lear, i, 4, 154-161; 4, 235-6; 4, 340-4; in, 
2, 81-94; 4, 144-5. Haml., n, 2, 116-9; 2, 426-7; 2, 435-7; m, 2, 282-5; 2, 159-61; 
IV, 5, 23-6; 5, 29-32; 5, 37-9; 5, 48-55; 5, 59-66; 5, 164-7; 5, 187-98. 



26 Wielcmd's Translation of Shakespeare 

love,' etc. With few minor changes, as ' Wan gen blass' for 'lily lips,' 
with the same number of lines it reproduces the metre and spirit of the 
English text. Schlegel saw fit to change only the last six lines of this 
song. Other good translations are: A.Y.L., III, 2, 98 — 118: 'From the 
east to western Ind,' where the ind-rhyme is preserved throughout, but 
11. 109—114 are omitted; A.Y.L., iv, 3, 40—63: 'Art thou god to 
shepherd turn'd ' and Ophelia's Valentine song : Haml., IV, 5, 48 — 55 : 
'To-morrow is Saint Valentine's day' ; also Haml., IV, 5, 23 — 26 : ' How 
should I your true love know,' and Mids., ii, 2, 9 — 26 : ' You spotted 
snakes with double tongue.' 

Only once did Wieland put a song into prose — Ariel's song summoning 
the thieves : Temp., iv, 1, 44 — 48 : ' Before you can say " come " and 
"go"'; the short o-rhymes he thought could not be translated. 

The rhymed passages so frequent in Shakespeare, especially at the 

end of scenes or acts, generally appear in prose [Lear, I, 4, 154 — 161 ; 

4, 235 — 6 ; 4, 340 — 4). Nerissa's lines form an exception : Merch., ii, 

9, 82—8 : 

The ancient saying is no heresy, 
Hanging and wiving goes by destiny. 

Das alte Sprtichwort ist nicht Kezerey, 
Hangen iind Weiben steht nicht jedem frey. 

Concerning the rhymed verses in Romeo and Jidiet Wieland properly 
remarks : 

Es ist ein Ungliik fiir dieses Stiik, welches sonst so viele Schonheiten hat, dass 
ein grosser Theil davon in Reimen geschrieben ist. Niemals hat sich ein poetischer 
Genie in diesen Fesseln weniger zu helfen gewusst als Shakespear ; seine gereimten 
Verse sind meistens hart, gezwungen und dunkel ; der Reim macht ihn immer etwas 
anders sagen als er will, oder nothigt ihn doch, seine Ideen iibel auszudriiken. . . . 
Shakespears Genie war zu feurig und ungestum, und er nahm sich zu wenig Zeit 
und Miihe seine Verse auszuarbeiten ; das ist die wahre Ursache, warum ihn der 
Reim so sehr verstellt, und seinen Uebersezer so oft zur Verzweiflung hringt. 

A delicate trace of Wieland's leanings to anacreontic tendencies 
manifests itself in Hamlet's letter to Ophelia, where this prompted him 
to add an extra line : Haml., ii, 2, 116 — 19 : 

Doubt thou the stars are fire ; 

Doubt that the sun doth move ; 
Doubt truth to be a liar; 

But never doubt I love. 

Zweifle an des Feuers Hize, 
Zweifle an der Sonne Lieht, 
Zweifle ob die Wahrheit Liige, 
Schonste, nur an deinem Siege 
Qnd an meiner Liebe nicht. 



F. W. MEISNESt 27 

Of the four witches' scenes in Macbeth Wieland translated only the 
first two (I, 1 and 3, 1—37). The other two he said were scarcely 
translatable into any language on account of their metre and rhyme. 
He took great pains with the first two, acknowledging however his 
inability to express 'das Unformliche, Wilde und Hexenmassige des 
Originals.' The lines 

When the hurlyburly 's done, 
When the battle's lost and won 

baffled him, as they have every translator since, necessitating a para- 
phrase; 'denn wer wollte den Ausdruk und Schwung dieser Verse 
deutsch machen konnen ? ' 



Reception and Influence. 

Wieland's translation not only awakened a new interest in Shake- 
speare in Germany, but also renewed that bitter warfare begun by 
Gottsched in 1741 upon the appearance of Caspar von Borck's transla- 
tion of Julius Caesar. The opposition now was no longer directed 
against the poet, but against the translation, especially against the 
plan of entire translations of the dramas. The most violent attacks 
were made by the Bihliothek der schonen Wissenschaften (ix, 257 — 70, 
1763)\ the Allgemeine deutsche Bihliothek^, Gerstenberg in his Biiefe 
ilber Merkwllrdigkeiten der Litteratur, Nos. 14 — 18, 1766, and Herder 
in his Erste SammUmg der Fragmente, 4. kritisches Wdldchen, and 
private letters (Lebenshild, vol. iii). On the other hand the translation 
was defended with somewhat less enthusiasm and occasionally with 
reservations, by the N'eue Zeitungen von gelehrten Sachen, Leipzig, 1763, 

1 Eschenburg, Vber TV. Shakespeare, p. 506, attributed this review to Meinhard. 
According to Weisse's biographer {Bibl. der schonen Wiss. lxx, 203, 1804) Weisse was the 
author : ' Unter seinen eigenen Recensionen ist wohl die bedeutendste die von Wielands 
Uebersetzung des Shakespear.' This is probably Jordens' (Lexikon, v, 404) authority 
for Weisse's authorship. 

- I, 1, 300, 1765, by Nicolai ; xi, 1, 51—9, 1770, small part by Nicolai. In a letter to 
Wieland, Feb. 6, 1770, Nicolai reveals the authorship : ' Ich iibersende Ew. H. das erste 
Stiick des xi. B. der A. D. B[ibliothek] ; die darin enthaltene Anzeige Ihres Deutschen 

Shakespears und Ihres Idris sind zwar nicht von mir der Anzeige des Shakespears 

habe ich die Erklarung S. 51, 52 und 54 selbst eingewebt. Ich gestehe es Ew. H., dass 
ich der Verf. der Anzeige der ersten Theile Ihres Shakespears in des. 1. Bds. 1. Stiicke bin. 
Es ist mir sehr unangenehm, dass ich durch die darin gebrauchten nicht genug abge- 
messene Ausdriicke, Ihnen wahrhaftig wider meine Absicht Gelegenheit zum Missvergniigen 
gegeben habe. Durch die gedachte offentliche Erklarung (i.e., pp. 51, 52, 54) suche ich 
meine wahre Meinung in ein naheres Licht zu setzen, und wenn Ew. H. auch nicht voUig 
damit zufrieden sein sollten, so kann sie wenigstens zur Bezeugung meiner aufrichtigen 
Hochachtung gegen Ihre Verdienste, dienen, die auch bey einer nicht volligen Uberein- 
stimmung der Meinungen bestandig bleiben wird.' Otto Sievers, Akademische Blatter, 
1884, p. 268. 



^8 Wieland's Translation of Shakespeare 

Nos. 3, 58, 81 ; 1764, Nos. 58, 97 ; Gottingische Anzeigen von gelehrten 
Sachen, 1764, Nos. 26, 96, 156; 1766, No. 7; by Uz, Klotz, K. A. 
Schmid, Lessing, Goethe and Schiller'. 

Dr Stadler's excellent discussion of the reception of Wieland's 
Shakespeare may be supplemented by the following references. Severe 
judgment is pronounced upon Wieland's work by the reviewer of 
Meinhard's translation of Henry Home's Elements of Criticism in the 
Allgemeine deutsche Bibliothek (1766, vol. ii, 1, p. 36): 

Wie gul diese U ebersetzung sey, kanu der Augenschein gleich frappaut lehreu, 
wenn man nur ein paar Stellen aus deni Shakespear nach dieser Uebersetzung gegen 
die steife, geschmacklose Uebersetzung halt, die jetzt in der Schweiz erscheint, und 
wodurch dieser grosse englische Dichter mehr entstellt als in unsre Sprache heriiber 
getragen worden. 

The signature ' B ' to this review corresponds to ' Westfeld,' in Parthey's 
Mitarbeiter an der Allgemeinen deutschen Bibliothek. 

In a superficial review (signed ' Dtsch ') of C. H. Schmidt's Theorie 
der Poesie in Klotz's Deutsche Bibliothek der schonen Wissenschaften 
(Halle, 1768, vol. i, p. 3) Wieland's translation receives favourable 
mention : 

Eben so ist es Ihnen, mein Herr S., mit Wielanden gegangen. 1st as nicht wahr, 
jetzt wiirden Sie ihr Urtheil von seinem Shakspear gerne zuriicknelimen, nachdem 
Sie Lessings Dramaturgic gelesen liaben ? Schon lange zuvor liabe ich geglaubt, 
dass Wielands Uebersetzung so schlecht nicht ist, als es den Kunstrichtern gefallen 
hat, sie abzumahlen. Diese Herren wollten uns, wenn es Ihnen gegUickt hatte, die 
besten Schriften aus den Handen kritisireii, die nicht aus ihrer Litteraturschule 
herstammten. Sie, Herr Schmidt, und Herr Fll. und wie sie weiter heissen, mogen 
einmal eine Uebersetzung von Shakspear hefern, die die Wielandsche libertrifft. Sie 
soil uns willkommen seyn : allein bis dahin bitte ich Sie, erlauben Sie ims andern, 
die Wielandsche Arbeit nicht schlecht zu nennen. 

The estimate of Wieland's Shakespeare in Jordens' Lexikon deutscher 
Dichter und Prosaisten (Leipzig, 1810, vol. v, p. 404) — the standard 
work of reference of that time — may be regarded as expressing the 
sober and final judgment of the eighteenth century: 

Durch diese Uebersetzung (ein schweres Unternehmen, da die Balm zu brechen 
war) hat sich Wieland um den theatralischen Geschmack in Deutschland grosse 
Verdienste erworben. Seine Verdeutschung und Lessings Anpreisungen zogen die 
Aufmerksamkeit auf den Englischen Dichter; man las, man studirte, und bekam 
allmahlig andere und bessere Begrifie vou Menschendarstellung in theatralischen 
und andern Werken. 

Wieland's translation and the interest and criticism which it en- 
gendered brought about two significant results : first, the introduction 
of Shakespeare upon the German stage and secondly, a demonstration 

1 Cf. Stadler, Q.-F. cvii, pp. 75—94. 



F. W. MEISNEST 29 

of the fact that a translation of Shakespeare was not only possible but 
desirable. 

After the first successful performance of the Tempest on the stage at 
Biberach (1761) in Wieland's version this small Swabian town became 
the centre of a Shakespearian cult. The Tempest was the greatest 
favourite on this stage and the most frequently repeated. Macbeth 
(1771-2), Hamlet (1773-4), including the gravediggers' scene which 
even Garrick had expunged, Romeo and Juliet (1774-5) were each 
performed four times, and Othello (1774), As You Like It (1775), and 
The Tivo Gentlemen of Verona (1782) each three times in the years 
indicated — and all in Wieland's version. At least two members of the 
Biberach dramatic society of which Wieland was director (1761-9), 
Karl Fr. Abt and his wife, became leading members of various theatrical 
companies and carried the news of the Shakespeare performances at 
Biberach to the principal cities of northern and central Germany. 
With Madame Schroder they established the first German theatrical 
company at The Hague (1774) and in 1780 the first at Bremen, of 
which Abt was the director. Of Frau Abt in the role of Hamlet at 
Gotha (May 10, 1779) it is said: 'Madame Abt hat die Rolle des 
Hamlet gottlich gespielt^' 

In 1773 Hamlet was performed at Vienna in Heufeld's version 
based on Wieland's translation, and three years later after Friedrich 
Ludwig Schroder had seen Hamlet on the stage at Prague, he hastened 
home and within a few days completed his version of the play, which 
was given Sept. 20, 1776, in the Hamburg theatre. 

In making a complete and faithful translation of the great master- 
pieces his chief aim and purpose, Wieland was in advance of most of 
the best scholars and critics of his time, such as Weisse, Nicolai, Herder 
and Gerstenberg, who either opposed all translations of Shakespeare, or 
at most favoured the translation of selected passages with synopses of 
the remainder. His high ideal was best realised in Midsummer Night's 
Dream, where the metre, style and spirit of the original were so 
successfully reproduced that Eschenburg accepted the entire translation 
without averaging more than two or three changes, mostly formal, to 
a page. The rabble-scenes and the Pyramus and Thisbe play were 
exceptionally well done. Schlegel adopted the former with few changes 
and the latter without any. But often Wieland failed to accomplish 
his high aims, as is most evident in the Tempest and Romeo and Jidiet 

^ Ofterdinger, Geschichte des Theaters in Biberach, Wilrttembergische Vierteljahreshefte, 
VI (1883), pp. 113-126. 



30 Wieland's Translation of Shakespea7''e 

Shakespeare's subtle phraseology, his puns and quibbles often caused 
Wieland to despair. His much condemned ' footnotes ' indicate that 
his attitude towards Shakespeare underwent temporary changes during 
the progress of the work, yet his general conception remained firm. 
Contemporary critics misjudged and greatly undervalued his work. 
He possessed a great part of the genius of a translator, but he lacked 
the patience and perseverance necessary for such a gigantic piece of 
work. 

F. W. Meisnest. 

Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. 



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